Poulticing a hoof requires the skills of a juggler. Poulticing a draft hoof requires the skills of a sorcerer. Hamilton BioVet is here to help.
When it comes to taking care of an abscess or stone bruise, I was always a traditionalist: soak the foot in an epsom salt solution, pack the hoof with the poultice du jour, pad the hoof, wrap, and duct tape. This multi-step process typically actually went more like this: place hoof in solution in shallow rubber pan. Wrestle the horse to stand in the pan. Refill the pant after horse has managed to upset the entire thing down the drain. When horse is finally standing still, attempt to prepare the poultice, start the roll of vet wrap, and assemble the duct-tape square. When the 10 or 15 minutes is finally up, attempt to hold all of these things plus a pair of scissors plus the horse’s hoof and apply.
Thankfully for all of us who lack the skills to juggle all of these things at once, the folks at Hamilton BioVet distribute yet another handy solution to make routine doctoring a little bit easier. Hamilton BioVet sells STAYONS Poultice Hoof Wraps, which are designed with us lay equestrians in mind, streamlining the soaking/wrapping process into just a few easy steps. The wraps come in three varieties: epsom salt, clay/epsom and bran/epsom, and are sold in packages of two.
For anyone who might have read my piece on the physics of a trailer crash, you might remember the two Percheron mares who luckily walked away from my family’s trailering accident. One of the mares, Sue, is still recovering from some injuries sustained during the crash; some substantial bruising on her chest and barrel has traveled down her leg all the way to her hoof. To help her get more comfortable with the what appears to be the last of her injuries, I decided to try out one of the STAYONS Poultice Hoof Wraps, sold by Hamilton BioVet.
Anyone who’s ever had to doctor a draft horse knows that, yes, though they are still horses and we expect them to have the same manners as our light horses, they’re really another thing entirely. Once a draft knows that you’re really not strong enough to make him pick up his foot when he doesn’t want to, he just won’t. And that’s that. So the prospect of treating Sue singlehandedly was daunting, but I trudged out to the barn to give it a shot. (To be fair, I did have my photographer/fiancé along to lend a hand.)
Fortunately, the STAYONS are designed to be used in just a three-step process:
1. Soak: the hoof wraps consist of two sections of poultice powder in quilting, which is activated with a 20-second dip in water. With a soak up to a minute, the wrap can also be hot or cold therapy as well.
1A. Remove draft horse from your pockets.
2. Apply: the wraps are helpfully marked “toe” so you can tell which part goes where. These wraps were large enough to cover the sole of Sue’s gigantic foot as well as wrap around the wall as well.
3. Wrap: Hamilton BioVet also sells a STAYONS companion one-step disposable boot that works with the hoof wraps, but I used regular ol’ vet wrap. At this stage it was important to have the wrap already started and a good hold on Sue’s foot, since my hands were a little slippery with poultice (probably due to my fumbling about with the wrap in the first place while I tried to figure out how to put it on. Next time I’ll be a little more prepared.)
And ta-da! We were all done. I trimmed the excess wrap that was poking out the top of my vet wrap job and returned Sue to her covered pen to hang out with her partner Rose.
The directions say to leave the STAYONS applied for 24 hours, so the next morning I headed out to the barn to see how well they had held up to a draft horse, which is akin to having a small elephant in your barn. Nothing had budged, despite Sue’s borium chips on her shoes which I had expected to rip everything to pieces. Even better, Sue’s hoof appeared to be more comfortable and she showed much less sensitivity to my probing. I treated her with the remaining STAYONS wrap for good measure, glad to have found a product that both made my job easier and drastically helped my horse.